John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, “How COVID-19 Is Influencing Organized Crime and Conflict.” Homeland Security Today. 25 January 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global tragedy. In addition to causing an extreme level of sickness and death, it has a broad destabilizing effect on the international economy and politics. Profound changes in how we live, exercise political rights, and interact with the illicit (criminal) economy are already underway. The COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities and challenges for states (governments) and organized criminal groups (OCGs) worldwide, including criminal armed groups (CAGs) such as gangs, militias, and mafias. The future of state governance and political capacity in the pandemic’s disruptive path is challenged by inflamed political passions on all sides, leading to extremism, potential conflict, and the consolidation of criminal economic and political power.